Author: Frank N. Wilner

Impeachment Saved ICC/STB Independence

While talk of Presidential impeachment is difficult to avoid, probably few can recite how the impeachment of a federal judge in 1912 helped to secure the independence of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and its Surface Transportation Board (STB) successor.

STB: Heed Seriously the Yak Fat Ghost

On 74 acres in central Virginia, there graze for commercial production some two-dozen Himalayan yaks—a largely fat-free, shaggy, handlebar-horned and oft cantankerous animal first imported to North America during the 19th century. If the connection of yak and its fat to transportation economic regulation is not obvious, blame your youth, as more than half a century has passed since the Great Yak Fat Caper of 1965 entered railroad lore—a dirty-trickster’s fraud now indelibly stained on the Interstate Commerce Commission’s (ICC) reputation, and, by association, its Surface Transportation Board (STB) successor.

Railroads, Labor Trade Contract-Change Demands

Collective bargaining between most of the nation’s largest railroads, represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), and their 12 craft-specific labor unions commenced Nov. 1 with the two sides exchanging broadly defined demands in preparation for face-to-face talks to amend contracts setting wages, benefits and work rules. Some two-dozen smaller railroads also are participating.

FRA’s Batory: “Let the Facts Speak”

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE: At the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), where challenges are voluminous and time is short because the nation’s top rail safety cop serves at the pleasure of the White House occupant, Administrator Ronald L. (Ron) Batory is pedaling furiously to accomplish priorities—cardinal of which is assuring demonstrable facts overwhelm opinion.

STB’s Cost of Capital Dilemma

NEWS ITEM: The Surface Transportation Board (STB) proposes to change the formula for computing the cost of the equity component of the railroad industry’s cost of capital. This is of consequence to railroads, shippers and investors because cost of capital is a determinant of railroad revenue adequacy and a threshold for a host of other regulatory limitations on rail ratemaking.